We love a smart, well-executed theme. And this casual spot on South Lamar carries the grammar school motif through, from the classic metal-locker host stand to the chalkboard-style menus. (Like some classrooms, though, parts of the main dining room here are extremely cramped. The waiter taking care of the next table stood less than four inches from our shoulders—way too close for comfort. And be warned that the popular place gets very noisy at peak times.) We started with a delicious salad of shaved kale and brussels sprouts rounded out with roasted butternut squash and spiced pecans. An attractive side of roasted multi-colored “cawwots” arrived slightly underdone atop a savory black baba ghanoush with pickled mushrooms and crunchy hazelnuts. An Italian-Mexican-fusion version of tortellini stuffed with pork carnitas and bathed in mole sauce was revelatory, but the star of the show on our initial visit was the ramen risotto, a Chinese congee-like rice dish served with two thick-cut slices of pork belly dusted with furikake and shaved scallions. The first time around it was divine; on our second visit, we got it again and found the pork to be egregiously fatty, with almost no lean meat. A pair of chocolate chip–sea salt cookies served with a glass of warm malted milk makes a nice farewell hug any evening.
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An enthusiastic crowd has made this school-themed restaurant very popular.